- Book reviewer
- Ship histories and stories, WWII operations, Book reviews, Royal Navy, Naval Engagements, Operations and Capabilities
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Sydney II
- November 2009 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Hore explains how other British cruisers engaged in hunting German raiders had also been extremely lucky not to have been equally surprised by enemy ships – some incidents were close encounters. The enemy had learned the lessons of WW I very well. The British Admiralty directions and policy in these circumstances evolved slowly, but progress was being made in better identifying stray merchant ships by the build up of complex shipping plots in shore headquarters – though this may not have been timely enough for Sydney on the far-off Australia Station. He also examines similar action damage incidents in other cruisers, particularly the catastrophic torpedo and bomb damage which led to sinkings, mercifully few in fact. The RAN suffered a greater proportion of losses, not surprising considering the degree of enemy engagement encountered throughout WW II. There is no shame in this fact. Our ships were well built and well handled. Sydney was undoubtedly surprised and caught a tartar, but her response ultimately sank Kormoran. The German survivors were forced to surrender and were well treated in Australia, but the air/sea search for Sydney failed to find them too, and some boats were fortunate to be rescued by passing merchant ships. Their escape from a burning ship in difficult conditions must also be considered lucky – considering the immense threat to the cargo of mines onboard – and a credit to Detmers and his crew. That Sydney herself did not explode is curious, but her sudden plunge was equally destructive and final.
(Editor’s Note: Publication of this review does not alter my statement in the last Review that no further correspondence on HMAS Sydney would be contemplated. That statement still stands. Our undertaking to publish this review was taken well before the last issue.)